Saturday, June 26, 2010

When to call the election

Ok, you’re now Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia. If you can’t handle that role, take the role of a senior ALP machine man. It doesn’t matter because you all have a big decision to make:

When do you call the election?

The maths is easy – the Victorian election is to be held this year on 27 November, so given they’ll have the usual 4 weeks election campaign that rules out every Saturday from 30 October onwards. The footy finals are in September, and you don’t want to do it then because that is the one time of the year when people really don’t give a stuff about politics (and neither do the TV networks), so that rules out all of September and October 2 (the NRL final is on 3 October). And the Commonwealth Games in Mumbai (Delhi) rule out October 9.    08_August_2010_Calendar_Image

Antony Green tells us:

As the Constitution prevents writs for a half-Senate election being issued before 1 July this year, the first possible date on which a House and half-Senate election can be held is 7 August.

Let’s rule out a Double Dissolution – it is not in the ALP’s interests as it could lead to a more unpredictable Senate, and also they won’t use the ETS as a trigger, though they could use the Medicare rebate threshold, but I doubt it.

So that gives us  August 7, 14, 21 or 29.  10_October_2010_Calendar_ImageOr October  16 or 23.  

Paul Bongiourno on Channel 10 had the inside word from very senior ALP sources that one of the points of the spill was to go to an early eleciton, which also might be why Julia said she would not move into the Lodge until after an election – if she goes early she won’t have to worry about security etc.

If she calls it for 7 August, she would need to call it by 5 July. Given Australia is out of the World Cup, there’s no sport to worry about. So there’s a lot of free air there.

She could also argue that she thinks the Australian people deserve to have a say on who is PM, and thus she is giving it to them as early as possible.

If the polls come out good, this would be a very tempting scenario – especially if she can get some sort of deal on the RSPT.

The problems with this scenario are that she has not yet established herself as “the PM” in the minds of the voters – so she doesn’t have much of an advantage of incumbency (though the ALP will).

The other problem is that this won’t give her much chance to distance herself in any policy way from Kevin Rudd. She would be very wise to have some climate change policy to take to the election - “we’ll do something”, won’t cut it – they need something to counter the Libs’ line about being the only party with a climate change policy.

The advantages of October are that it will allow Parliament to come back for at least two weeks (the last week of August, and first week of September). Parliament gives the PM gravitas, and also allows her to get plenty of nice little grabs on the TV news. The problem is it also gives Abbott a chance to get a grab as well, and the way Question Time is reported on the news, it often makes a lopsided contest appear evenly matched.

So what would you do? I have no idea – because there are good reasons for doing both. It is risky to go early because people might think it cynical. It is risky to wait because any honeymoon period may wear off (though I think this is a smaller risk). But right now, members of the ALP are thinking about this decision. And they know they have to get it right. (One way they might make the decision is to also think what would the Liberal Party least like them to do).

Personally I wish they didn’t have to make the decision at all – it should be fixed terms – keep the terms at three years (the electorate always seems to vote against fixed four year terms). The current system is too much of an advantage to the incumbent.

August or October. Take you pick. Nothing’s riding on it. Just the future of the nation.


imacca said...

Grog, i reckon that what you said about a climate change policy will be an important consideration. Means Oct seems most likely to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that you are right in ruling out a double dissolution. Its advantage is that the new Senate would come in straight away, and would, if the government gets back, almost certainly be more manageable than the current one. And that would mean that the government would have a better chance of looking effective, rather than being blocked for another 10 months, and blamed for inaction. In addition, the threat of a double dissolution should frighten the wits out of the mining industry, which might make them more amenable to reason in the next few weeks. Plus there would be the prospect of getting legislation through a joint sitting.

Grog said...

You could be right anon.

Just think calling a DD now would seem to sort of come out of nowhere. Usually a DD is called closely to the issue that triggers it, ie just after something has been blocked.

You are right - putting up with the Senate will be bloody annoying - can you imagine a lame duck Fielding and the damage he would do?

I hate how the Senate terms work - they should just be equal to two terms of the HoR, whatever length that may be

Anonymous said...

Calling a DD with the CPRS reinstated as a trigger could be a real game changer. Another thing to keep in mind on timing is that the government might well want a longer campaign than has become usual - around 40 days rather than the minimum 33 - to give people time to get on the electoral roll. Finally, calling the election for August rather than October would definitively focus minds on Labor vs. Coalition, and wipe out interest in Gillard vs. Rudd.

Grog said...

Anon - I think the CPRS in its current form is dead - Julia said as much in her first presser. They could use the medicare rebate though as a trigger, but it's kind of a nothing issue really.

Anonymous said...

At times like these, when we are close to the end of the Parliament anyway, and when the opposition has already called (last week) for the election to be held straight away, it won't matter so much whether the trigger for a DD is seen as important. The last DD, in 1987, was triggered by the Australia Card legislation, but it scarcely got a mention during the campaign. And the voters would scarely notice whether the election is a DD or normal half-Senate: the ballot papers will be a bit bigger, but nearly everyone votes above the line these days.

Anonymous said...

How early they go will come down to how long it takes to get the right favouable media coverage under their belt, and by tis I don't mean the news/political press. Julia needs to soften her image amongst women post coup, and there is not better way to do this than covers and features of the Womans day, Womens Weekly, etc. Hell, she may even pick up a Vogue, Marie Claire, etc. as being the first female PM is no small thing. The added benefit of this sort of coverage is that it will keep Tone's wife and kids out of the same press to a great degree, which will cut off a significant avenue for the softening of his image with female voters. If they go too early, they will miss the chance to impact these cycles.

L said...

Julia needs to soften her image amongst women post coup, and there is not better way to do this than covers and features of the Womans day, Womens Weekly, etc.

As long as she doesn't let them give her a red feather boa to wear. That never ends well.

Patriot said...

I've no interest in your blog because the first time I found it through twitter I realised it was full of Sh*t. Today while searching something else came across your blog again and realised how correct was my first observation.

By the way Commonwealth Games are in Delhi and not in Mumbai idiot.

L said...

Hey Grog, is this your first troll?

Grog said...

Thanks Patriot, I must admit I first wrote "India", and then without checking wrote Mumbai. But yes you are right it's in Delhi.

And yes I must admit that slip has destroyed every arguement I've ever made on this blog.

I can see I have no option but to shut down this blog and henceforth retire to merely writing letters to The Oz explaining why I think their coverage is beyond excellence.

macca said...

Great reply to Patriot Grog. Hope he didn't choke on his teabag. WRT an election. After all this weeks events I say bring it on, sooner rather than later. As a nation we have to get this sorted. I reckon a DD is the best way to go. Clean house so to speak. If we end up with Abbott and co, we end up with them and pay the price we have to pay for allowing a corrupt media, colluding thugs in both boardrooms and backrooms to destroy a decent man.

nickandrews 1of2 said...

Congratulations on your inaugural flame by a brainless troll, Grog.

You are now officially a blogger!

Anonymous said...

I've been suggesting Aug 7 for no other reason than it's the earliest they can, leaves Abbott scrambling. Gives the miners the choice between agreeing now or betting on Abbott wining.

Earlier also allows her to have a stronger legitimacy in deciding the substance of her cabinet.

There are lots of things to consider in deciding though.

Great dealing with the troll. BTW

Casablanca said...

Heard on ABC Sunday night news that the Josephite Order has called on the PM to avoid an October election because that is when Australia's first saint - a women - will be canonised by the Pope.